Philippines offers Sabah to win Malaysia’s support for UN case vs China

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MANILA, —The Philippines has offered to downgrade its claim on Sabah in exchange for Malaysia’s support for its case against China before the United Nations.

The quid pro quo was contained in a note verbale the Department of Foreign Affairs handed to a representative of the Malaysian Embassy last week, a week after the visit of Malaysian Defense Minister Dato  Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

The note verbale, a copy of which was obtained by VERA Files, referred to the May 6, 2009 joint submission by Malaysia and Vietnam to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) in which Malaysia claimed an extended continental shelf (350 nautical miles from baseline) that was clearly projected from Sabah.

DFA comment March 30:

The Philippines has excellent relations with Malaysia. In the context of our friendly bilateral relations, our two countries have been for years exchanging ways on how to address the issue of the extended continental shelf (ECS) in the South China Sea.

The Note Verbale  that was written about was part of this process. The Note is about the features in the South China Sea and their implications on ECS claims. Sabah is not in any way part of the Note.”

The Philippines, in an Aug. 4, 2009 note to the U.N. Secretary General, protested the joint submission because it effectively declared Sabah to be a Malaysian territory.

The Philippines claims ownership of Sabah, which is at present occupied by Malaysia, based on the title of the Sultan of Sulu who ceded proprietary rights over the 76,115-square-kilometer land to the Philippines in 1962.

In last week’s note verbale, however, the DFA informed the Malaysian government that it is “reviewing” its 2009 protest and its action would depend on Malaysia’s response to Manila’s two requests related to the South China Sea conflicting territorial claims.

The first request is for Malaysia to “confirm” that its claim of an extended continental shelf is “entirely from the mainland coast of Malaysia, and not from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands.”

The DFA also requested Malaysia to confirm that it “does not claim entitlement to maritime areas beyond 12 nautical miles from any of the maritime features in the Spratly islands it claims.”

Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a state is entitled to 12-nautical-mile territorial sea over which it exercises sovereignty.

Malaysia, like the Philippines, claims parts of the Spratly islands in the South China Sea which is being claimed almost wholly by China, Vietnam and Taiwan. Brunei is another claimant to some parts of the Spratlys.

There are some parts in the Spratlys where the 200 NM Exclusive Economic  Zones of the Philippines and Malaysia overlap.

The DFA didn’t issue any statement when VERA Files sought its comment on the note verbale and its implications.

Former Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Lauro Baja Jr. said the Philippine claim to Sabah will be “prejudiced” if Malaysia accedes to DFA’s request.

“We are in effect withdrawing our objection to Malaysia’s claim of ownership to Sabah,” he said.

A DFA official who requested anonymity, said, however, the Philippine claim to Sabah would remain intact even if Manila withdraws its 2009 objection to Malaysia’s submission to the U.N.

Baja countered, “Even if we are not formally dropping the Sabah claim, it (the withdrawal of the protest) can be used as evidence against our claim.”

A DFA source said officials involved in the case against China before the U.N. Arbitral Court said if Malaysia confirms it doesn’t claim beyond 12 nautical miles from any maritime features in the Spratlys Islands it claims, the Philippine case will be strengthened because one of Manila’s demands for relief from the U.N. court is to declare that certain features, such as rocks, do not generate maritime entitlement beyond 12 nautical miles.

This would clarify that the 12 nautical miles surrounding among others, the Panatag Shoal, also known as Scarborough Shoal or Bajo de Masinloc (Chinese name: Huangyan Island), are part of the Philippines 200-nautical-mile Economic Exclusive Zone.

The Philippines suit, which primarily sought to nullify China’s all-encompassing nine-dash line map invalid, also wants the U.N. court to rule that submerged features within and beyond 200 nautical miles of the Philippines are not part of China’s continental shelf. This would make China’s occupation of these features a violation of UNCLOS.

A diplomatic source said Malaysia may find the Philippine request “too hard to handle” because it has adopted the policy of “playing it safe”—expressing concern on China aggressiveness in the disputed waters while maintaining good relations with the economic superpower.

“A maritime entitlement of only 12 nautical miles for their reefs, as the essence of the Philippines request, will not be in the interest of Malaysia. Besides, Malaysia will not risk its close economic ties with China, its biggest trading partner,” the source said.

The source said China also protested the 2009 Malaysia-Vietnam submission to the U.N. So even if the Philippines withdrew its objection, the Chinese protest would stand, the source said.

The CLCS would not proceed on the Philippines’ withdrawal of its protest unless and until the Chinese 9-dash line claim is rendered invalid.

Also last week, the Philippines submitted a supplemental argument in answer to China’s position paper on the Spratlys territorial claim. The U.N. is expected to hand down its decision in 2016.

Meanwhile, the Philippines has denounced the massive reclamation of China on its occupied reefs.

Baja said the Philippine position on Sabah is much stronger than its Spratly islands claim.

Economically, the timber and mineral-rich Sabah is much more valuable than Spratlys, he added.

There are more than 600,000 Filipinos in Sabah, most of them considered by Malaysia as illegal residents and are often subject to harassment.

Sabah (North Borneo) originally belonged to the Sultan of Brunei, who gave it to Sultan of Sulu Salah ud-Din Karamat Bakhtiar in 1658 as a reward for helping quell a rebellion. In 1878, Sulu Sultan Jamalul Alam Kiram leased North Borneo to the Hong Kong-based British North Borneo Co. of Baron Gustavos von Overbeck and Alfred Dent for 5,000 Malaysian dollars a year.

In 1946, Overbeck and Dent, without permission from the Sultan, transferred the territory to the British government when the company ceased operations.

On Sept. 11, 1962, Sultan of Sulu Mohammad Esmail Kiram ceded to the Philippine government full sovereignty, title and dominion over the territory.
President Diosdado Macapagal filed the Philippines’ claim over Sabah with the United Nations.

In 1963, the British government, again without permission from the Sultan of Sulu, transferred Sabah to the newly formed Federation of Malaysia.

Malaysia is currently the broker in the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Muslim rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the creation of a  Bangsamoro, an autonomous political entity in the southern part of the Philippines.

Sabah -- In 1658, the Sultan of Brunei ceded the northern and eastern portion of Borneo to the Sultan of Sulu in compensation for the latter's help in settling a civil war in the Brunei Sultanate, but many sources stated that the Brunei did not cede any parts of Sabah to the Sultanate of Sulu.

USS Shiloh arrives in Subic Bay for a port visit

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SUBIC BAY, – The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) arrived in Subic Bay, for a port visit, May 29.

“With the long standing history between the U.S. and the Philippines, I am honored to have the opportunity to bring Shiloh and get back into our routine of visits here,” said Capt. Kurush F. Morris, commanding officer of Shiloh. “For many of the crew, this will be their first time visiting, and I am sure they will thoroughly enjoy experiencing the rich culture and wonderful hospitality this country has to offer.”

Naval Base Subic Bay closed in 1992, and since then the Republic of the Philippines converted the area into the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), which is the first of its kind in the country.

While in Subic Bay, Shiloh Sailors will have the opportunity to go shopping, dining, and take part in Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) events. Also, they will get the chance to interact with the local community through community relation projects and sporting events with local teams.

Shiloh’s last port visit to the Philippines was in February 2014 in Cebu.
“Our port call last year in Cebu, and now Subic Bay, is a testament to the lasting friendship between the two nations,” said Morris. “Not only do we get to enjoy all that the Philippines has to offer but we get to build upon and strengthen this bond with the Filipino people.”

Shiloh, forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, is on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

The US Navy Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67) performs a full power run. Shiloh is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of operation supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Australia To Reform Defense Acquisition

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MELBOURNE, — The long-awaited Australian defense white paper will likely be released in July, fulfilling a promise made when the Liberal government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott took office in late 2009. The document will spell out Australia's strategic defense priorities for the foreseeable future and the attendant Defence Capability Plan (DCP) will include new acquisition projects over the coming decade.

The DCP likely will include new frigates and submarines for the Royal Australian Navy, an armed unmanned aerial system and VIP aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), and follow-on orders of armored fighting vehicles for the Australian Army — capabilities the white paper probably will underscore.

The new equipment will be in addition to current acquisition projects, which include three air warfare destroyers (AWDs), 72 joint strike fighters and the first tranche of the Land Combat Vehicle System (LCVS) program of mounted combat reconnaissance vehicles.

But the defense organization as a whole is facing reorganization, with far-reaching implications for future procurement, following the First Principles Review, a report on the acquisition process released April 1 by Defence Minister Kevin Andrews.

One result of the review: The Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO), which performs acquisition and sustainment for the Australian Defence Force, is to be merged back into the force. DMO is staffed by a mix of civilian and uniformed personnel.

The government pledged to undertake the review upon coming to power, and Andrews said the shortcomings it identified will be urgently addressed.

"These include a proliferation of structures, processes and systems with unclear accountabilities, which in turn cause institutional waste, delayed decisions, flawed execution, duplication, over-escalation and issues for decision, and low engagement levels amongst employees in parts of the organization," Andrews said. "So this review proposes a transformational change across Defence, to ensure that it can deliver on future requirements that will be outlined in the government's forthcoming white paper and related documents. To achieve this, Defence must move from a current inefficient federated approach into a single, integrated organization that delivers an enhanced joint capacity."

The report is titled "Creating One Defence," and the majority of its 75 findings agreed to by the government will be implemented over the next two years.

While the specifics of future acquisition will not be fully known until the white paper's release, significant capabilities have been added to all three services in recent years, and this is set to continue with the government's promise to return spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product by 2023-24. Andrews reiterated that commitment April 1.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) received the first two of 72 Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II joint strike fighters last year and this year will receive its first Alenia Aermacchi C-27J Spartan battlefield airlifters.

In July, the first Boeing EA-18G Growler is due to roll off the production line in St. Louis and, after a period of testing with the US Navy, will be delivered to the RAAF. This will mark the first export for Growler and from 2017 the RAAF will be the only service outside the US Navy to have a dedicated airborne electronic attack capability.

Australian crews are already training with the US Navy at Whidbey Island, and some will be posted to US expeditionary Growler squadrons on completion.

"We need time to not only complete Growler training, but also understand how to properly support, task and operate the aircraft, because it is a capability the ADF has never had before," said Wing Commander Paul Jarvis, the acting director of the RAAF EA-18G Transition Team. "It will enhance ADF awareness in the electro-magnetic spectrum."

The Royal Australian Navy commissioned the first of two 28,000-metric-ton landing helicopter dock (LHD) amphibious warfare vessels in late 2014 and the second follows this year. Together with the ongoing Anzac-class frigate Anti-Ship Missile Defence (ASMD) program, this has added to the surface fleet significant new capability that will be further enhanced when the three Hobart-class air warfare destroyers (AWDs) enter service later in the decade.

The AWD program has been delayed, however, and there is a debate over the future of Australia's naval shipbuilding industry and its future viability. Australia plans to build up to 12 large conventionally powered submarines, eight frigates and a number of patrol boats in the next decade, but industry has concerns that vital shipbuilding skills are being lost as work on the AWD and LHD programs winds down.

In mid-April, Andrews released a report on Australia's naval shipbuilding enterprise, undertaken on behalf of the government by the Rand Corp. Although submarine construction was not included in the terms of reference, the report found that Australia could sustain a naval shipbuilding program, subject to industry reform and careful management of a continuous shipbuilding strategy.

Options for this include a fourth air warfare destroyer in the interim and a rolling build program for the future frigate.

"This government is prepared to invest in the skills and knowledge base of the Australian naval shipbuilding industry, and is prepared to commit to a long-term investment to make sure this important industry enjoys a future in Australia and these critical skills are maintained," Andrews said.

Andrew Davies, a senior analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, considered in that organization's "The Strategist" blog that the report is a "valuable contribution" to the debate on Australia's future shipbuilding aspirations.

"No doubt it would've been better if the analysis had included submarines as an addition to the baseline surface shipbuilding it examines, but it still answers some important questions," Davies wrote. "Perhaps most importantly, it provides a solid estimate of the premium the Australian taxpayer currently pays for local construction, and what the 'best case' figure might be in the future."

Australia early this year issued to industry a request for tender for the first phase of its largest-ever land warfare program.

There are significant questions about the initial phase, and it is not yet clear which industry teams will bid and how much of the vehicle will be assembled in Australia. Boeing and Iveco-Oto Melara announced in April they would withdraw from the competition, but did not give specific reasons. Further industry announcements are expected as June approaches.

The Royal Australian Navy HMAS Hobart (D-39) Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD).

Chancellorsville Departs for Forward Deployment to 7th Fleet

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SAN DIEGO, -- The guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) departed from San Diego May 28 for Yokosuka, Japan, where the ship will join U.S. 7th Fleet's Forward Deployed Naval Forces.

Chancellorsville will enhance presence in 7th Fleet as part of the U.S. Navy's long-range plan to send the most advanced and capable units to the Asia-Pacific region.

"It is Navy policy to forward deploy our most capable ships and there is no ship more capable than Chancellorsville," said Capt. Curt Renshaw, Chancellorsville's commanding officer. "That capability is not just a result of recent modernization, but is also a function of the readiness of the crew; and this crew has worked very hard to prepare for this day to ensure we are able to arrive immediately prepared for any mission."

Chancellorsville completed a combat systems update through the Navy's Cruiser Modernization program, making her among the most capable ships of her class. She is fitted with the latest Aegis Baseline 9 combat system, and will be the first to be forward deployed with that capability.

The Cruiser Modernization program is designed to upgrade in-service ships to keep pace with evolving threats while enabling ships to meet service life requirements and future operational commitments. Cruiser modernization enhances overall combat systems capability through numerous system improvements.

Future missions will include maritime security operations and cooperative training exercises with allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

This ship, along with her counterparts in the Japan Self-Defense Forces, makes up part of the core capabilities needed by the alliance to meet our common strategic objectives.

U.S. 3rd Fleet leads naval forces in the Eastern Pacific from the West Coast of North America to the international date line.

The U. S. Navy ship USS Chancellorsville (CG-62)  Ticonderoga-class cruiser guided missile cruiser in rough seas.

KRI Bung Tomo Exocet Missile Launch Success in the Java Sea

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JAKARTA, -- KRI Bung Tomo-357 test its weapons system by launching missiles Exocet MM-40 Block II in the Java Sea. The trial was conducted to determine the ability of the weapon system integrated fleet (SSAT) owned by the Navy.

The launch missiles Exocet MM-40 Block II in the waters of the Java Sea, Thursday (05/28/2015) witnessed by Chief of Naval Staff (Navy Chief of Staff) Admiral Ade Supandi military officials who accompanied the Military Headquarters.

KRI Bung Tomo is a battle-ax type of light multi-role frigate (MLRF) commanded by Marine Colonel (P) Yayan Sofiyan. Admiral Ade Supandi in his statement said the missiles Exocet MM-40 Block II is the second generation owned by the Navy after Exocet MM-38. Later, the Navy will have a Block III as the latest generation.

 In addition to testing the reliability of missiles, Exocet missile test MM-40, is also done to test the system in KRI Bung Tomo-357. The trial is important to know the combat readiness KRI Bung Tomo.

Head of Information Department of the Indonesian Fleet Command East Region , Marine Lt. Col. (KH) Maman Sulaeman, said stages activities missile launch MM-40 Exocet Block II runs smoothly.

"The firing Exocet MM 40 in the Java Sea is not the only trial conducted Navy. Because do also tested against other weapons systems, such as torpedoes, cannons and other types of missiles, which are useful in order to test the readiness of the ship before the vessel will be used in accordance force projection of the Armed Forces Commander, "said Maman.

The Republic of Indonesian Navy KRI Bung Tomo 357, F2000 / Bung Tomo class guided missile corvette test fires Exocet MM-40 Block II missile.

Philippine Navy eyes submarines for 'deterrence'

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MANILA - The Philippine Navy said acquiring submarines is part of the plan to modernize the military, but admitted it won't be easy and can’t happen overnight.

Nonetheless, an office to handle the development of submarine capability has been put up, said Navy chief Vice Admiral Jesus Millan.

“What we are pursuing of course is to take the initiative. The first important thing is to acknowledge the importance of such capability for our future requirements,” he said.

He said the office can help the military gain knowledge of a new defense capability.

“That is why, our initial step in the Navy is to establish an office to start learning about this discipline. It’s important that we learn about it and prepare our troops who will be involved in the development of such capability,” said Millan.

Navy vice commander Rear Adm. Caesar Taccad said in December that the submarines can be used as “deterrence.”

The Philippines is embroiled in a dispute with several nations over ownership of the potentially oil-rich West Philippine Sea. China is aggressively pursuing its claim via reclamation in several islands and reefs within the area.

Taccad had said the submarines will serve as a deterrent “so other countries will not try to interfere with our [peaceful] exercise of sovereignty over our maritime areas.”

Millan said the submarines, “can bring a lot of help to us. As you can see, there are instances that it can perform non-traditional roles, even in search and rescue or in doing things that are beyond the capabilities of surface assets. These things can help us.”

NOTE: The image does not represent the actual acquisition of the project.

The The Republic of Korea Navy Lee Eokgi (SS 071) submarine transits on the surface after departing Pearl Harbor.


11 countries upgrade naval power amid South China Sea tensions

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BEIJING, -- No fewer than 11 countries are upgrading their navies amid escalating tensions in the South China Sea, reports our Chinese-language sister paper China Times.

As could be expected, China and the United States are leading the charge. China's submarine fleet is expected to match that of the US by 2020 — in numbers, at least — with 78 subs. Many are to be stationed at the Yulin Naval Base along the southern coast of Hainan.

Despite continuing to increase its military budget every year, China's national defense spending still pales in comparison to the United States. The latest statistics from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute say the United States remains by far the world's top military spender, with its US$665 billion defense budget equal to the total of the next seven countries behind it on the list. US military expenditure is still three times that of China, which is still considerable given the amount is equal to the aggregate spend of 24 countries in East and South Asia.

The US has also recently declared that it plans to deploy RQ-4 "Global Hawk" surveillance drones and F-35 fighter jets to the South China Sea to combat the PLA's aggressive posturing in the region through extensive land reclamation activities.

Vietnam, embroiled in a territorial dispute with China over the Paracel and Spratly island chain, recently made headlines for ordering six submarines from Russia as well as several surveillance aircraft. Vietnam's military expenditure has increased by 83% over the past five years, during which time its navy has also doubled its number of frigates to 68.

By contrast, the Philippines has only purchased a number of patrol boats from Japan, though it has increased military cooperation with the US by opening up its ports and bases to the US Navy.

As for other countries in and around the South China Sea, Indonesia has ordered three submarines from South Korea; Malaysia has ordered six patrol vessels from France and Singapore has acquired six Formidable-class frigates and ordered two new submarines from France to add to its current fleet of four.

Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines are also said to have acquired new armored vehicles, helicopters and amphibious ships capable of surveillance and rescue missions.

The UK's IHS Janes Defence Weekly projects annual defense spending in Southeast Asia to reach US$52 billion by 2020, up from an expected US$42 billion this year. The 10 nations of Southeast Asia are expected to spend US$58 billion on new military hardware over the next five years, with naval procurements, specifically for the South China Sea, to comprise a significant portion.

The situation in the South China Sea may have even affected Japan, South Korea and India, each of which are making moves to bolster their respective navies. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force has increased 41 frigates to a total of 389. Tokyo has also bolstered defense spending to US$48 billion, which will include purchases of P-1 surveillane aircraft, stealth fighters and other US-made weaponry. South Korea, on the other hand, has added larger offensive submarines, while India is planning to build six new submarines.

Project 877E (Kilo class) submarine.

News W A T C H : Vandenberg AFB test-fires third ballistic missile

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WASHINGTON, -- Air Force officials at Vandenberg Air Force Base test-fired an unarmed Minuteman-III ballistic missile during the early morning hours of May 20.

Launched toward the Pacific Ocean at around 3:30 a.m., the purpose of the test launch was to “validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness, and accuracy of the weapon system,” according to the Air Force.

“The data gained from these launches allows us to maintain a high readiness capability and ensures operation effectiveness of the most powerful weapons in the nation’s arsenal,” said Col. Keith Balts, commander for the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg, who’s also responsible for deciding whether or not a missile gets launched.

The missile was launched by a team that includes members of the 90th Missile Wing based out of F.E. Warren AFB in Wyoming and was launched under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron stationed at Vandenberg.

This is the third intercontinental ballistic missile test launched from Vandenberg this year. The previous two were launched on March 23 and 27.

Because they were not armed, all three missiles contained re-entry vehicles so that they can be recovered. Each missile has a range of roughly 6,000 miles and can be outfitted with three thermonuclear warheads each ranging in the megatons, according to the National Museum of the Air Force.


Meet Fil-Am leading USS Lincoln upgrade project

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NEWPORT NEWS,  -- One of the United States Navy's largest aircraft carriers is getting a major systems overhaul under the watchful eye of a history-making Filipino-American captain.

It has been nine months since US Navy Captain Ronald Ravelo took command of USS Abraham Lincoln--a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier named after the former US President.

Commissioned in 1989, USS Lincoln will be remembered for its role in the largest peacetime evacuation in history. When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, Lincoln carried 45,000 active military personnel and their families from Zambales to Cebu.

Today, the USS Lincoln is undertaking a 4-year upgrade and overhaul process in Newport News, Virginia.

This massive undertaking is all under Ravelo's command.

"It's pretty daunting, the amount of work that goes into re-outfitting an aircraft carrier after 25 years of service. As you can imagine, it's quite challenging," he said.

Last March, on the second anniversary of its overhaul process, Ravelo addressed more than 2,500 member/ crew.

Ravelo is the first Filipino-American to take the helm of one of the largest US aircraft carriers in the world.

"We only got 10 of these capital ships in the United States Navy so I think just to be honored and had been selected to command it, that in itself is a point of pride," he said.

A son of a retired US Navy officer, Ravelo was born in Okinawa, Japan and raised in San Diego, California. He lived with his grandmother in Makati, Philippines while his father was stationed in Saigon.

"Family is very important, critical part of the Filipino culture and that was probably the one thing that I remembered most dearly about that time in the Philippines," he said.

Ravelo earned his engineering degree from the University of Southern California. He later on earned Master's degrees at the University of Redlands and at the Naval War College.

In 2006, Ravelo was selected to the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program and completed his tour as executive officer of USS Ronald Reagan.

In 2013, he commanded USS Comstock before he got promoted to commanding officer of USS Lincoln in 2014.

"The Navy is probably one of those few organizations where any sailor, we all come in with the understanding that with a lot of hard work, dedication you can get as far as the sky is the limit," he said.

Capt. Ravelo is a recipient of several awards including the 2007 Commander, Naval Air Forces Navy and Marine Association Outstanding Leadership Award.

"Just remaining hungry, remain dedicated and working really hard that's really what it takes to get to my level and any level," he said.

Under Ravelo's command, the USS Abraham Lincoln is expected to be operationally and combat-ready by 2017.


Carter Meets With Philippine Counterpart in Hawaii

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WASHINGTON, – The United States stands by its pledge to defend the Philippines, Defense Secretary Ash Carter told his Philippine counterpart during their meeting in Hawaii today, according to a DoD news release.

During Carter's meeting with Philippine Secretary of National Defense Voltaire Gazmin, the two leaders reaffirmed the strong and enduring ties between the two nations, the release said.
Carter welcomed the opportunity to discuss regional security issues with one of America’s closest allies in the Asia-Pacific, the release said, and stressed that the U.S. commitment to defend the Philippines is ironclad.

Mutual Defense Treaty

The U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty has bound the two countries for more than 60 years, according to the release.

President Barack Obama said in Manila last year that the agreement pledges the two nations' "Common determination to defend themselves against external armed attacks, so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that either of them stands alone," the release said.

In Hawaii, Carter and Gazmin agreed that all parties involved in the South China Sea should seek a peaceful resolution of disputes, immediately halt land reclamation, and stop further militarization of disputed features, according to the release.

The two leaders also agreed to hold, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department and Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs, a 2-plus-2 meeting as soon as possible, the release said.

The 2-plus-2 will meet at the assistant secretary-level to consult on regional security issues of mutual interest, including the South China Sea, according to the release.

The United States of America Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington's pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains "ironclad" and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said.


Major Overhaul of Russia's Tu-160 Strategic Bomber to Be Completed In 2019

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KAZAN, -- A major overhaul of Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers will be completed in 2019, Boris Naishuler, the director of the Gorbunov Kazan Aviation Production Association’s design center, which upgrades the aircraft, said Tuesday.

"The first stage of modernization has been completed; the second stage connected with replacement of nearly all onboard radioelectronic equipment on existing aircraft is expected to be completed in 2019," Naishuler told TASS.

He said the process of modernization started with replacement of equipment installed on the planes back in Soviet times.

"The planes have equipment that was manufactured in former republics of the Soviet Union. The modernization is aimed at replacing all that equipment, including navigation systems and communications equipment, with Russian," Naishuler said.

Russia’s Air Force currently has in operation service about 15 Tu-160s, they are undergoing modernization announced in 2012. Besides, it was reported that Tu-160s will get upgraded NK-32 engines - a development batch is to be handed to the military in late 2016.

Russia is currently developing a new strategic bomber dubbed PAK DA (prospective aviation complex of long-range aviation). The new bomber is expected to make its first flight in 2019 and become operational in the Russian Air Force approximately in 2023-2025.

In late April, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu ordered his subordinates to work out the issue of resuming production of those bombers at the Kazan aircraft manufacturer.

The Kazan Aviation Plant, founded in 1927, is a subsidiary of JSC Tupolev. It currently manufactures special purpose aircraft on the basis of Tu-214, as well as repairs and modernises bombers. In addition, the company manufactures and supplies components and assemblies within the framework of cooperation with other plants of the United Aircraft Corporation. In particular, the Kazan plant is preparing for the production of wings and tail assembly for the IL-476 planes.

The Russian Air Force TU-160 “Blackjack” Supersonic Strategic Bomber aircraft.

HHI launches stealth minelayer for Korean Navy

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SEOUL, — Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), the world's largest shipbuilder, has launched MLS-II Nampo, its second minelayer for the Korean Navy.

The launching ceremony at HHI's Ulsan, South Korea, was attended by Mr. Baek Seung-joo, Vice Minister of National Defense of Republic of Korea; Mr. Kwon Oh-gap, President & CEO of HHI; and 100 other guests.

The MLS-II Nampo is both HHI and Korea's second minelayer and follows MLS-560 Wonsan, delivered in 1997.

The next-generation stealth minelaye can carry 120 crew and measures 114 m in length, 17 m in width and 28 m in depth with a displacement of 3,000 tons. It is specially built to lay a large number of mines precisely at the designated spots in a short period of time.

The MLS-II Nampo is scheduled to be delivered to the Korean Navy by October 2016 after outfitting work, sea trials and final inspections.

HHI has delivered a total of 71 naval ships to the Korean Navy, including 12 frigates/patrol ships, three destroyers, three submarines, and two Aegis destroyers.

The Republic of  Korean Navy MLS II Nampo Minelayer vessel.

China Says Building Islands in South China Sea No Threat to Region

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BEIJING — China's military on Tuesday compared its controversial island-building in the South China Sea to ordinary construction such as road-building going on elsewhere in the country, trying to deflect criticism over an issue seen as inflaming tensions in the region.

At the same venue, however, the Defense Ministry issued a report reaffirming China's more assertive approach to national defense that has put its neighbors on guard.

The document on China's military strategy said the navy would be adding "open seas protection" to traditional remit of "offshore waters defense," while boosting its ability to counterattack and conduct joint operations at sea.

The air force, meanwhile, will "endeavor to shift its focus from territorial air defense to both defense and offense," said the 25-page report, which was issued in English and Chinese at a rare news conference presided over by uniformed officers.

The report's issuance and comments from ministry spokesman Yang Yujun at the briefing followed a formal Chinese protest over an incident last week in which a Chinese navy dispatcher warned off a U.S. Navy P8-A Poseidon surveillance aircraft as it flew over Fiery Cross Reef, where China has conducted extensive reclamation work.

The incident, documented by a CNN news crew on board the U.S. plane, prompted a testy editorial Monday in the official Communist Party newspaper Global Times that warned that Washington should not test Beijing's restraint or China would have "no choice but to engage."

China has bristled at what it sees as U.S. interference in the region and says it is within its sovereign rights in developing islands made from sand piled on top of reefs and atolls. The U.S. and many of China's neighbors see the island-building as an upending of the status quo by China to bolster its claims to the region and possibly pave the way for military installations far from its shores.

In one disputed area, the Spratly Islands, U.S. officials say China has created about 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of dry land since 2014 that could be used as airstrips. The U.S. argues that man-made constructions cannot be used to claim sovereignty and is closely watching for signs that China will seek to back up its claims by basing missile systems and fighter aircraft on the newly formed islands.

However, Yang sought to minimize the military significance of the island developments and said the issue has been exaggerated by those seeking an excuse to take unspecified actions in response — a clear reference to the U.S.

"Every day all around China, there are all kinds of construction projects being started (such as) building homes, paving roads, building bridges, opening new farm land, etc.," Yang said.

"Looking from the angle of sovereignty, China's development of construction on its islands is no different at all from all the other types of construction going on around the country that I just mentioned," he said.

Such construction is designed to satisfy both military and civilian purposes such as disaster mitigation, fisheries protection and weather monitoring, Yang said.

Without directly mentioning the U.S., he said the issue had been brought to the fore by an increase in surveillance activities and an effort to "deliberately play up the issue in order to smear China's military and raise tensions in the region.

"I don't rule out that certain countries are looking for excuses to take certain actions," Yang said.

He declined to say what additional measures China might take to enforce its claims and said overall relations between the U.S. and Chinese militaries are positive.

China lays claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, while Taiwan, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines say they own all or parts of it.

In Taiwan on Tuesday, the island's president, Ma Ying-jeou, issued a call for setting aside sovereignty disputes and jointly exploring for resources in the area. Taiwan occupies a number of islands, but doesn't seek to enforce its overlapping claim with China.

The desire to assert its territorial claims is at least partly behind an upgrading of the military to allow China to project power into the western Pacific, Indian Ocean and elsewhere.

That includes the addition of an aircraft carrier, new submarines and surface ships, as well as a more ambitious training regimen such as air force drills in international airspace off the east coast.

The most recent public photo of Fiery Cross Reef  airstrip construction, also known as "Northwest Investigator Reef", "Yongshu Island" and "Yongshu Reef" by the Chinese, "Kagitingan Reef" by the Philippines, and "Đá Chữ Thập" by the Vietnamese. Via CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative / DigitalGlobe.

US Naval Forces to Acquire Over 300 Ships in Five Years – Navy Secretary

3:43:00 PM Add Comment
WASHINGTON, -- The United States will build a fleet of more than 300 vessels by the end of the decade, US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said. He pointed out that in 2001 the US Navy comprised 316 vessels, but by 2008 the number had dropped to 278.

The US Navy will number more than 300 ships by 2020 with 60 percent of them in the Pacific Ocean, US Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said.

"We are building the fleet above 300 ships. We’ll get there by the end of the decade. We’re shifting at least 60 percent to the Pacific," he said during a MSNBC show answering the question on how the US will keep competitive with the Chinese Navy.

Mabus pointed out that in 2001 the US Navy comprised 316 vessels, but by 2008 the number had dropped to 278.

According to the secretary, from 2005 to 2009 the US put under contract 27 ships, and in the following five years – over 70 ships.

The U. S. Navy San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23), the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4), the joint high speed vessel USNS Millinocket (JHSV 3) and the Military Sealift Command mobile landing platform USNS Montford Point (MLP 1) transit in formation off the coast of Southern California as part of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014, July 11, 2014.

Singapore, Chinese navies Ex Maritime Cooperation 2015 exercise

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SINGAPORE, -- With precise movement and clear communication with our navy personnel, the Chinese helicopter, Z-9 Haitun, successfully landed on and took off from the flight deck of RSS Intrepid.

This was the helicopter cross deck operation that took place during the sea phase of Ex Maritime Cooperation 2015. This inaugural exercise involved our Formidable-class frigate, RSS Intrepid and Victory-class missile corvette, RSS Valiant, and the Jiangkai II-class frigate, CNS Yulin from the People’s Liberation Army (Navy).

In addition to this helicopter cross deck operation, the sea phase also saw the two navies engaging in conventional naval warfare serials such as gunnery firings and manoeuvring drills, before concluding the exercise with a sail past.

Through the exercise serials, the crew from the two navies learned from one another and enhanced interoperability out at sea, affirming our defence relationship and forging closer friendship.

Sailors of the Republic of Singapore Navy Formidable-class frigate wave to People’s Liberation Army Navy Jiangkai II-class frigate after the "Exercise Maritime Cooperation 2015", May 25, 2015.

Acquisition, operation of P-3s under PAF purview

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MANILA, --- While well aware of the excellent capabilities of the Lockheed P-3 "Orion," which the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) is planning to retire within a few years time, Philippine Navy (PN) flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Jesus Millan said that acquiring and operating such aircraft is within the exclusive purview of the Air Force.

In a message to the PNA, the PN chief said that the P-3 is a long range aircraft that requires huge support systems and such capabilities make it ideal for the Philippine Air Force (PAF).

"(The P-3 is well suited) for future PAF (long range patrol) requirements," he added.

The JMSDF is operating 70 units of the P-3. It is planning to replace the former its homemade Kawasaki Heavy P-1 patrol aircraft which has twice the range of the "Orion"over the next five years.

The Orion is a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft developed for the United States Navy and introduced in the 1960s.

Lockheed based it on the L-188 Electra commercial airliner.

The aircraft is easily recognizable by its distinctive tail stinger or "Mad Boom," used for the magnetic detection of submarines.

It has a range of 2,380 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 311 knots.

While the Kawasaki P-1 is a Japanese maritime patrol aircraft which intends to replace the P-3.

Japan took delivery of the first two P-1s last March 26, 2013.

It has a range of 4,320 nautical miles and top speed of 450 knots.

"We will just maintain light to medium-lift fixed aircraft to support (the) extended range) of our fleet," he added.

Millan also stressed that the PN and the rest of the Armed Forces is still waiting for guidance from the national leadership on the outcome of their discussions on what help the JMSDF can extend to them.

A Lockheed P-3C-II½ Orion (5037) of the Japan Maritime Self Defence Force, 3 Kokutai, at RAAF Pearce –  9 April 2014.

R E P O R T : Senators McCain and Reed oppose Chinese participation in U.S. led military exercise

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WASHINGTON, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on Thursday regarding the U.S. invitation to the People’s Republic of China to participate in the 2016 Rim of the Pacific military exercise in Hawaii.

“Given China’s behavior in the past year alone, including its disregard for the interests of our allies, international law, and established norms, we do not believe Beijing should have been invited to this prestigious U.S.-led military exercise in 2016,” Senators McCain and Reed wrote.

“China appears more intent on waging a maritime sovereignty competition and bullying its neighbors than contributing in a substantive manner to regional peace.”

Senators McCain, Reed Letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter On Chinese Actions in South China Sea;

Dear Secretary Carter:

It has come to our attention that the U.S. Pacific Fleet has extended an invitation to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to participate in the 2016 Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) military exercise in Hawaii. We think this decision is misguided. Given the PRC's provocative actions in the East and South China Seas, our government should be considering policy options that impose costs on China’s disruptive behavior, not reward it.

The PRC and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and State Oceanic Administration are actively working to establish operational control in the East and South China Sea using a variety of methods of coercion. As you will recall, China’s first participation in the RIMPAC exercise in 2014 was accompanied by the deployment of a Dongdiao-class auxiliary general intelligence (AGI) ship to monitor the exercise. Despite our best efforts to build trust and cooperation, the pace and scope of China’s maritime sovereignty activities have only increased.  Foremost among these is an effort to reclaim vast amounts of territory across the Spratly Island chain with the goal of altering the status quo in the South China Sea. In addition, China continues to employ coast guard and fishing ships to maintain a continued presence in these waters and occasionally uses naval ships to back its territorial claims with military power.

While a sustained and substantive military-to-military relationship with China is in our interests, our desire for continued engagement with the PRC cannot be the main driver of the relationship. Given China’s behavior in the past year alone, including its disregard for the interests of our allies, international law, and established norms, we do not believe Beijing should have been invited to this prestigious U.S.-led military exercise in 2016. China appears more intent on waging a maritime sovereignty competition and bullying its neighbors than contributing in a substantive manner to regional peace. Furthermore, some of the very countries that China continues to coerce with its growing power, including Japan and the Philippines, are regular participants at this exercise. For these reasons, we believe the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s invitation to attend RIMPAC 2016 should be revoked.

We also believe our government should be doing far more to raise the costs of China’s behavior, including more publicly supporting the Philippine United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) arbitration case regarding the legality of China’s nine-dash line claim, enhancing freedom of navigation patrols in the East and South China Sea, especially joint patrols with allied states, and a more robust train and equip program to help build the maritime domain awareness and coastal sea-denial capabilities of states like the Philippines.

We look forward to your response and continued commitment to upholding the rules-based order that we have worked so hard to build and sustain in the Asia-Pacific region.


John McCain


Senate Armed Services Committee

Jack Reed

Ranking Member

Senate Armed Services Committee

Forty-two ships and submarines representing 15 international partner nations steam in close formation during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.

International participation in Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2015

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CANBERRA, -- Australia and the United States are preparing for Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2015, the largest combined military exercise undertaken by the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

The exercise, scheduled to take place early to mid July 2015, is the principal Australia and United States (US) bilateral training activity focussed on the planning and conduct of mid-intensity ‘high-end’ warfighting.

Defence forces from New Zealand and Japan will join the exercise this year.

Australia’s Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston, said the inclusion of the New Zealand and Japanese forces would enable the ADF to deepen its engagement with close defence partners in the region but did not change the bilateral nature of the exercise between Australia and the United States.

“The primary aim of the exercise remains improving Australia-US readiness and the way we operate together through combined training,” VADM Johnston said.

About 40 members from the Japan Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) will work with US forces in the conduct of the exercise. A New Zealand contingent of over 500 personnel, including ships and aircraft, will operate as part of the Australian forces.

“There will also be a broader International Observer program with participation from foreign officials,” VADM Johnston said.

“While Exercise TALISMAN SABRE remains Australia’s premier bilateral exercise with the United States, it provides an excellent opportunity for the ADF to practice operating with the New Zealand Defence Force and JSDF in a realistic training environment.”

Australian Defence Force rigid-hull inflatable boats from Tactical Assault Group (East), prepare to intercept a 'suspect' vessel in the waters off Yeppoon, Queensland, during Exercise Talisman Saber 2013.

BAE Systems Delivers More AWD Blocks

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VICTORIA, -- A further two Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) blocks manufactured at BAE Systems’ Williamstown shipyard have been sent to Osborne, South Australia.

 BAE Systems Director of Maritime Bill Saltzer said: “Our AWD Project team has again delivered a quality product, on schedule. Both blocks (111 and 415) for ship 3 were accepted by AWD lead shipbuilder ASC following inspections at the Williamstown shipyard prior to dispatch.

“Our shipbuilders deserve recognition for the very high quality and productivity they have achieved on for ship 2 and ship 3 blocks. We have made significant investments in improving our shipbuilding capability and this is benefitting our customer. On AWD blocks that we have produced for more than one ship, we have consistently achieved productivity improvements from one block to the next which demonstrates the benefits that can be achieved with continuous production.”

Work is continuing on the remaining eight blocks for ship 3 which will be completed early next year.

The NUSHIP Hobart 39 Launch taken by Philip Hosking, AWD Alliance.

American forces told to leave Phuket

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PHUKET, --  The Royal Thai Armed Forces rejected an American request to use Phuket as a maritime patrol base to assist Rohingya migrants, a military source said on Saturday (May 23).

The US asked to keep its maritime surveillance aircraft in Phuket after the anti-submarine warfare training exercise “Guardian Sea” ended on Wednesday (May 20), the source said.

The US said it wanted to conduct maritime patrols from Phuket as part of an operation to provide humanitarian assistance to Rohingya migrants.

But both the RTAF and the Royal Thai Air Force declined the request and asked the US to remove its aircraft and soldiers from Thailand by Friday (May 29).

The source said US officials in Thailand for the five-day training exercise were upset because they asked if they could keep the aircraft in Phuket several times.

The rejection reflects Thai irritation over US pressure to resolve human trafficking problems here, the source said.

The RTAF was also concerned the US would interfere or do something that might disadvantage Thailand's handling of the Rohingya matter, the source added.

Speaking to The Phuket News on the issue, Commander of the Royal Thai Navy's Third Naval Area Command, Vice-Admiral Sayan Prasongsamrej, said, “We have enough military support to look for Rohinya boats.

“If we do find any boats we will deal with the matter according to Thai laws. We will also provide those on board with humanatarian aid.

“In addition, we have a fixed space for US military aircraft in long term. However, this space is very small and we don̕t want their aircraft tied to this area.”

Police investigating Rohingya trafficking said no new arrest warrants were issued on Saturday. A total of 77 suspects are still wanted and 46 have been taken into custody. Most of the suspects are politicians and leaders in Satun province, said a local source.

Pawin Pongsirin, deputy chief of Provincial Police Region 8, said the Office of the Attorney-General has sent a number of public prosecutors to work with police on the Rohingya case.

This is because the case is complicated and witnesses in countries including Bangladesh, Myanmar and Malaysia may be asked to speak to Thai investigators, Pol Maj Gen Pawin said.

Deputy national police chief Ake Angsananont has instructed officers to intensify pressure on suspects to come out of hiding or face arrest, the source said.

According to former foreign minister Kasit Piromya, the experience of handling boats of Vietnam refugees fleeing their country two decades ago should be used to deal with the current wave of Rohingya migration.

Thailand, Asean, the international community and the UN should also cooperate with the migrants' countries of origin, such as Myanmar and Bangladesh, he said.

He called on Interpol and international intelligence agencies to step in to help investigate human traffickers targeting the Rohingya.

Mr Kasit urged countries around the world to set up funds dedicated to caring for displaced Rohingya, improving living conditions for Rohingya people in Myanmar's Rakhine state, and building temporary shelters for Rohingya in Thailand.

Asean should also explore ways of convincing Myanmar to recognise the Rohingya as its citizens, he said.

Royal Thai Navy embarked a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft during the practical portion of the exercise.

Taiwan a potential buyer of retired US A-10 Warthogs

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TAIPEI, -- Taiwan has been tagged as a potential buyer of refurbished Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II jets should the ground attack aircraft be retired from the US Air Force.

Paul Cejas, Boeing's chief engineer of off-Boeing programs, said at a media event on May 20 that the A-10 — nicknamed the "Warthog" — that the company has begun early discussions" with the US Air Force (USAF) to sell off refurbished A-10s to international customers.

"It's something we would be interested in, but again, it depends where the air force goes with retirements," Cejas said. "If we go that path we would be looking at a modification. It all depends on what the air force does. We have no jurisdiction, and we'll support whatever they need and we're positioned for that."

The A-10 was developed by the now defunct Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s. Boeing was awarded the contract for the aircraft's service life extension program in 2007.

According to the UK-based IHS Jane's 360, Boeing is currently under contract through to 2017 to re-wing 173 of the USAF's A-10 fleet, with options for 69 more. Of these, 105 refurbished aircraft have already been handed back to the USAF. There are currently about 200 active A-10s and 60 in storage at a boneyard facility in Arizona.

If the USAF is allowed to retire its A-10 fleet, the most likely course of action given where the re-winging contract has progressed to is for Boeing to complete the service contract so the aircraft can be sold to interested international parties.

Cejas said that the refurbished A-10 could include a new engine, a cockpit upgrade including a helmet-mounted cueing system, and targeting pods. These proposed enhancements are only in a concept stage and are not being touted in response to any specific customer requests, he added.

While Cejas has refused to name potential buyers, the Shanghai-based Guancha Syndicate believes Taiwan is a possible candidate given its enthusiasm in acquiring America's retired Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates last year. Coincidentally, Taiwan currently lacks a superior performance attack aircraft, but it is a different question altogether whether an old aircraft like the A-10 would be able to penetrate the People's Liberation Army's defenses, Guancha said.

Other countries listed by Guancha as potential interested parties include South Korea and Iraq.

The United States Air Force Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II  “Warthog”  Fixed-wing close air support, forward air control, and ground-attack aircraft.

Sukhoi Handed Over Another Batch of Su-34 Frontline Bombers to the Ministry of Defense

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MOSCOW --- Today the Sukhoi Company handed over the first batch of Su-34 frontline bombers to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation according to the 2015 State Defense Order.

The aircraft took off from the V.P. Chkalov Novosibirsk Aircraft Plant’s airfield and headed to the place of their deployment.

Last year the Sukhoi Company’s branch — Novosibirsk aviation plant successfully completed the 2014 State Defense Order and delivered two combat aircraft above the initial yearly plan.

At the present time the aircraft plant operates with maximum efficiency. The State Contract with the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation for supplies of the Su-34s to the Air Force up to the year 2020 guarantees a stable work load of the Sukhoi Company for the coming years and identifies long-term development prospects. Currently, Su-34s operate successfully in the military and demonstrate high performance.

The features of the Su-34 include, in particular, a flight range increased up to 4000 km, a maximum speed of up to 1900 km/h, a payload of up to 8 tons. The aircraft has a new weapon system and an air refueling system.

The Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback is the Russian air force’s standard long-range strike aircraft. Its range has been increased to 4,000 km and its payload to 8 tonnes, Sukhoi says.

Philippine Navy replenishment capability gets boost with BRP Lake Caliraya

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MANILA, -- The commissioning and activation of the BRP Lake Caliraya (AF-81) on Saturday significantly boosted the replenishment capability of the Philippine Navy (PN).

PN flag-officer-in-command Vice Admiral Jesus C. Millan in a statement Monday said, “With the commissioning of this oil tanker, the Navy has now a credible POL (petroleum, oil, lubricant) delivery platform that shall extend the operational range and scope of our ships especially those operating in the high seas and the EEZ."

The BRP Lake Caliraya was commissioned at Naval Station Pascual Ledesma, Fort San Felipe, Cavite City.

She was the former M/T Lapu-Lapu of the PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation that was donated to the PN last March 26, 2014.

“With the commissioning of this oil tanker, the Navy has now a credible POL (petroleum, oil, lubricant) delivery platform that shall extend the operational range and scope of our ships especially those operating in the high seas and the EEZ,” he added.

Millan also conveyed his deep gratitude to the PNOC Shipping and Transport Corporation headed by Antonio Cailao.

The motor tanker is one of the recent capability development program undertaken by the PN through the Philippine Fleet.

Her inclusion in inventory will greatly enhance the replenishment capability of the Navy.

Navy ships will no longer have to travel farther inland just to refuel as POL requirements will already be available in the nearest naval installation. Problems on fuel contamination will now be addressed as AF-81 is built for this purpose.

The BRP Lake Caliraya is a single product replenishment platform that has a depot-to-ship, ship-to-depot, and a ship-to-ship refueling capabilities.

AF-81 was one of the three largest vessel of PNOC Fleet. She was built in Zhejiang Zhongxing Shipyard in Taizhou Peoples Republic of China in November 2007.

The sailing crew commissioned by the PNOC brought the ship from Taizhou, China to Manila, Philippines in January 2008.

The ship was used by the PNOC in transporting mainly bunker fuel to the different ports in the Philippines.

On May 11, 2014, the ship was brought from its anchorage area in Bataan to Keppel Shipyard, Bauan, Batangas to undergo dry docking and other related repairs.

She was then brought to Naval Shipyard, NSPL, Cavite City to undergo structural, habitability, machinery, and piping repairs.

AF-81 was named after Lake Caliraya, a beautiful lake located in the province of Laguna. As the lake provides a source of livelihood sustenance for the people of Caliraya, AF-81 on the other hand, will support the sustainment of naval operations.

With her modern replenishment and refueling gear, she will be central to facilitating and sustaining the operations of our Fleet in the operational areas.

AF-81 is commanded by Lt. Cmdr. Mamerto A Goleta PN and manned by selected officers and men of the Sealift Amphibious Force.

"With the help of our generous stakeholders and government, slowly but surely the Navy will acquire the necessary materiel and equipage that are needed in performing our traditional and non-traditional roles. As AF-81 sail to its maiden mission, the Navy has another reason to level up their dedication and commitment to perform their mandates," Millan concluded.

The Philippine Navy first Oil Tanker BRP Lake Caliraya (AF-81) during a Christening and Commissioning Ceremony on May 23, 2015 at the Naval Station Pascual Ledesma in Fort San Felipe, Cavite City.

Asia Navies Introduced to the ‘Tank Boat’

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JAKARTA, -- Indonesian shipyard PT Lundin and turret manufacturer CMI Defence are working on an innovative craft aimed at the riverine and amphibious assault market.

Dubbed the X18 Tank Boat, the design essentially wraps a boat around a CMI gyrostabilised 105mm turret, according to the head of PT Lundin, John Lundin.

‘We identified the need for better boats for riverine operations and amphibious assault operations for countries without good air support some years ago,’ Lundin told Shephard.

They began initial discussions with CMI three years ago, quickly identifying the company’s 105mm as having the necessary firepower and elevation for the mission. ‘That elevation also allows the gun to be used as artillery if needed,’ added CMI’s local representative Patrick Ledig.

PT Lundin has used its expertise in advanced composites to design the 18m craft to ‘wrap around the gun’.

‘We’ve used a lot of existing technologies and put them together in an innovative design,’ Lundin stated.

The companies believe that marrying existing technologies has allowed them to jump-start the engineering process and they have already conducted CAD and structural design feasibility studies.

The X18 only has a 0.8m draught making it ideally suited for the confines of riverine operation and is propelled by two MJP waterjets making it highly manoeuvrable.

According to PT Lundin, the boat should be capable of maximum speeds of 30kts and have a range of some 900nm. The size needed to accommodate the 105mm also means that alongside the crew of six the X18 can also carry up to 20 troops.

Although it is a composite design, Lundin said that the crew areas would have a level of ballistic protection. ‘We believe we will be able to give protection against 7.62mm, but the weight costs of moving up to 12.7mm were prohibitive,’ he added.

Further crew protection would be provided by integrating a number of close-in systems. The company has already had discussions with Bofors about potentially integrating its Lemur fire control system that would integrate a remote weapon station designed to carry missiles, weapons up to 30mm and 40mm AGL.

The PT Lundin X18 Tank Boat concept for riverine operations.